Published in the December 3, 2015 edition

Dear Neighbors and Friends:

Recently Ed DeSousa and my wife wrote wonderful letters to the Transcript again telling the people of North Reading that their lives are about to change. Perhaps not in a big way but definitely in a bad way and it will impact all of us whether you like it or not. The decision by FERC on the pipeline is imminent. The decision will be made shortly (by January?) and when it’s done, it’s done although FERC is still accepting input at this time. You won’t start to see results until 2017 when huge equipment starts to scar North Reading. But I personally will see them much sooner because they are coming right through the middle of my privately owned land. The government is going to take my land, which I’ve owned for 30 years, by eminent domain and rip right through it. Not only are they going to take and destroy my land, they are going to destroy my peace of mind. For the rest of my life I am going to be sleeping every night very near a huge pipeline of gas which is under tremendous amounts of pressure. They have exploded before and somewhere they will explode again. If it’s on my land, then I, my family, my dogs, my house will all be gone. When I mentioned this to a higher-up at Kinder Morgan he said, and I quote, “Yeah, but that’s pretty rare.” Quite comforting. I needed a shower after talking to him.

The gas companies and KM (Kinder/Morgan) in particular have an awful record of not complying with government regulations. They have been fined millions of dollars for non-compliance with regulations but they are a billion dollar company and what’s a slap on the wrist to them? They spread all kinds of lies and people believe them. They tell us that we need this and it will save us money. That’s lovely but not only is it not true, it’s the exact opposite. If we need this why aren’t they using to full capacity the lines already in place? Why are they not repairing the estimated 20,000 gas leaks just in Massachusetts alone? Some of these leaks are literally decades old. That figure is from the gas companies themselves so you know it’s at least triple that. Right now as you read this there are tons of methane being spewed into the atmosphere. Methane is the worst pollutant we have. It is 72 times more toxic than all the other fossil fuels. Natural gas is methane.

The earth may very well already be choking to death. Solution: build a $5.2 billion pipeline (started out at 4 billion) that will tear through vast areas of beautiful New England and right through our pretty little town. You will get nothing good out of it. You will not get gas heat; you will not get cheaper heating bills and in fact your bills will probably increase. Who do you think is going to pay this $5.2 billion bill? That’s right, electricity users. Do you use electricity?

The world is changing, folks. If you are informed at all you’d realize that the world is desperately trying to get away from fossil fuel dependency. There are huge movements going on in Mass. against this pipeline and most people have no clue. I wouldn’t have either if it wasn’t being shoved down my throat. I am now quite well informed on this issue because I’ve done massive research, attended many meetings and know that every official in this town is against it as is every town it’s going through. I feel personally like I’m fighting for my life with this monster right in back of me.

Energy is changing worldwide and fossil fuels are being phased out and eventually the goal is to rely on renewable, clean sources. Methane is the worst and most dangerous of all the fossil fuels and it’s coming right through North Reading and when it does it will be here long after you are gone. But it will be here for your children and generations to come to deal with. I know that if every resident of our town wrote letters and protested this pipeline, it might do nothing.

But I wanted you to know what’s coming your way. Most of you will drive over this pipeline every day if you use Route 28 or Park Street.

I’ve been told that sometimes they do blow up (fact) but it’s rare so rest easy. I’ve also been told that oftentimes they leak (fact) but don’t be too concerned. If you have no water some day when our watershed is destroyed, it doesn’t happen a lot and we can probably eventually get water from somewhere.

I know time is running out and there’s not much citizen opposition in North Reading to what’s coming. I know this because I’ve only seen one “Stop the Pipeline” sign in North Reading and that’s mine on Park Street, which I’m sure many of you have seen. If big government and big business wins, which they very well could because they have the billions and I don’t, then I’ll take my little sign down and I’ll patiently wait for them to come and take my private land away from me and destroy it. I’ll wait for them to put something dangerous, dirty and potentially deadly next to my house and I’ll carry on. I’m not looking for sympathy, many are far worse off than I, but at least I’ll know that I sounded the alarm and put up the good fight. In a couple of years from now when we finally get our new “gift” for the town, perhaps you can stop by my house in the middle of the night sometime to talk about it. I’ll be awake. I will be writing more about this. Good luck and thanks for listening.

Stephen Woodbury